Living with triplets: Schaper family learns multitasking skills to care for childrenMelanie and Mark Schaper’s family has a tendency to turn heads. Not only do they have five children, three of them are triplets. A year and a half ago, Sarah, Emelie and Matthew were born. Five months ago, Samantha joined the family.
Melanie and Mark Schaper’s family has a tendency to turn heads.
Not only do they have five children, three of them are triplets.
A year and a half ago, Sarah, Emelie and Matthew were born. Five months ago, Samantha joined the family.
Routine, multitasking and a lot of love keeps the Schaper family functioning. Sixteen-year-old sister Shannea helps, too.
“To people looking in, they think, ‘Oh, that must be so hard,’ and ‘How do you do that?’ But for me it’s just normal,” Melanie said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the triplets and then having Samantha, it just makes having her seem so easy.”
The Schapers, who live on a farm north of Halliday, go through about 20 diapers a day. Now that the triplets are walking and starting to talk, mom and dad are trying to stay one step ahead.
“We haven’t had any major catastrophes yet,” Melanie said with a laugh. “They like their new little baby sister. The girls especially are almost a little mothering with her.”
Sarah and Emelie push Samantha in her swing and try to comfort her if she cries.
“The little boy, Matthew, he loves her a lot, too. But sometimes he loves her a little too much,” Melanie said. “He likes to try to crawl right on top of her.”
Mark said planning is essential since the family needs plenty of time to do just about anything.
“There’s no, ‘We’re going to do this in an hour,’” he said.
Traveling can also be a challenge.
“When you get there, you really don’t have enough hands,” Mark said. “One’s got two, the other one’s got two and your hands are full and you try to grab the diaper bag and try to grab a bag with some food in it and if you try to do any activities like shopping, it gets a little tough.”
The family gets a lot of attention when they leave the farm, but it’s beginning to wear off.
“It’s not as much as we used to when they were little babies and we’d try to take them out last year,” Melanie said. “Sometimes it was even hard to go in the store, because you’d want to try to make a quick trip and go in and out.”
The couple recently dressed the triplets up and took them outside for photos near their cherry bushes. Melanie asked Mark not to pick any cherries in front of them.
“Two seconds later what does he do — gives him cherries, so that kind of snowballed,” Melanie said. “So they were going crazy with these bushes, picking all these cherries, eating them and staining their new clothes.”
The stained clothes in their 18-month-old photos only add to the memories, she said.
Mark said every day is a new adventure in their family.
“The guys at work are probably tired of my stories,” he said, chuckling.
The couple says they couldn’t do it without each other.
“Alone would be pretty impossible because we count on each other so much,” Mark said.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson has delivered only one set of triplets since 1981, said Deb Bolin, director of obstetric services.
“I know we’ve had some sets due before — at least two — but they ended up being delivered in Bismarck because they were too early to deliver here,” Bolin said. “We do quite a number of twins.”
The Schapers weren’t sure if their triplets would survive, since having multiples is high risk.
“Matthew’s amniotic sack had ruptured. … So I was on bed rest for 10 weeks before they were born,” she said.
Melanie delivered the twins early, at 27 weeks, which meant they had to spend 10 weeks in a Bismarck hospital.
“Our faith is very important to us and we did a lot of praying and relied on our pastor,” Melanie said. “I think the prayers are what got us through it. Even though they were born early, they did amazingly well.”
While some see having multiples as an added stress, it has many advantages, Melanie said.
“With three of them, it’s really nice to see them interacting and playing with each other,” she said. “That’s something you wouldn’t get if you just had one. It’s fun to see them all develop their own personalities because you think they’re born at the same time, they’re exactly the same age, they’re raised the same way and yet they’re all so different.”